I found out the other day that A's dad passed away over Memorial Day weekend. The two of us don't really talk anymore, but I decided to write her a little note the other day passing on my condolences. I stopped short of saying "Call me if you want to talk" or even "Let me know if there's anything I can do for you." For one, I imagine I'm the last person she'd want to talk to about anything like this, and second, I frankly don't want to get involved in that. She has enough to deal with right now as it is without someone she's had a troubled past with being around.
What horrible timing though...her wedding is in two weeks. I wasn't invited...nor should I have been...nor would I have gone even if I had been. I told Steph the other day that I really don't want to have anything to do with that part of my past. But with so many shared friends between A and me, I don't think it's ever going to disappear completely.
Not to linger on a morbid subject, but my mind has been on "death" an awful lot recently. I suppose it doesn't help that I recently finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It was one of those books I had heard about and wanted to read but just never got around to doing it until now. A little cliché perhaps (even for non-fiction), but come on...the man was dying -- he's certainly allowed. Besides, it didn't make the emotion any less powerful or the insight any less valid.
Stuff and things.
I've been thinking an awful lot about Christina lately. It's been well over a year since she passed away, but part of it still doesn't feel real. That's the horrible part about not keeping in contact with someone. If she had been a bigger part of my day to day life toward the end, maybe her death would feel more permanent instead of feeling like an extended vacation that she just hasn't returned from.
I was planning on writing more here tonight, but I should really try to get some sleep. Tomorrow's the first day of my new freelance contract -- auditions at the high school...during Memorial Day weekend, no less. Whatever...not my place to judge. I've got a two hour drive to look forward to immediately after the auditions to meet up with Steph at her dad's house for their annual Memorial Day weekend get-together. I'm both looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. Well, maybe "dreading" isn't quite the right word for it. I don't know...we'll see.
This place is a dump.
After browsing around for a bit, I've come to the conclusion that the people in charge of this place abandoned ship long ago. Now it's just here...floating around in the middle of nowhere while all of the ad bots slowly consume it. I guess there are a few humans left running around, clutching to the little bit that's left here.
I'm imagining a time when this was brand new...a bright new journaling community -- a direct off-shoot of LiveJournal. Quickly...climb aboard and claim the username you *actually* want instead of being stuck with something because everyone and their mother has an LJ account.
Blurty is the Laserdisc of online journals. Apparently, LiveJournal is still somewhat strong.
I shouldn't write things at 1:30 in the morning.
So, it's been almost a year since I've written in here...kind of a shame considering how long this journal has been active up to this point. I would feel worse about it, except that I haven't exactly stopped writing. Truth is, I've been "cheating" on this site with a blog over at Wordpress for the past year. My intention was never for it to be permanent. It began as a simple experiment as a result of some things that my professor and I had been talking about during my grad seminar.
Oh, right. Since I've been gone, here are things in a nutshell:
- After quitting my job, I began a master's degree program. As of a week ago, I am now officially halfway done with my degree.
- I pay the bills by freelancing and substitute teaching when I have the time. I love the work, but hate the job insecurity. Having nothing beyond minimal university healthcare sucks.
- I started dating a woman I used to work with at my last high school a couple months after I left -- the same woman whose mother passed away suddenly a little while back, Steph. We'll have been dating for a year this coming August. We're basically living together.
Anyhow, about the other blog... I managed to accomplish something I've always said I wanted to do here, but never managed to find the discipline. I've been writing every single day. It's true. I'm on a 343 day streak. I'm going to end my year long challenge on June 17th (the day I began over at Wordpress last year). After that, I plan to shut that site down and return here full time, despite the fact that I enjoy the posting format much more over there.
Until then though, I'll do my best to check in here every once in a while. Maybe double posts...although I never did like running two things like this at once.
Enough for now. It's after midnight.
"...but the grass is made of plastic, and there's plastic on the grass."
Not really feeling like updating at the moment, but I'll make a brief post because I felt (for some reason) a need to share this.
Woke up this morning and checked Facebook to find that A is officially engaged. I'm happy for her. It's sort of a weird feeling in a way. I half expected myself to be irrationally upset, even after all this time...but I'm finding there's not really much of that, thankfully. I'd be worried about myself if there was.
That being said, I don't see myself going to the wedding...if I'm even invited.
Busy months usually equate to only one entry. The problem with that is that I'm never in the mood to recount everything when I finally do post.
So...it's over. Turned in the keys to my room last Friday and drove away from campus for the last time. I don't know if there's anything else to say about it. I begin work in my new role at the university in about three weeks from now. I am totally looking forward to that.
I was told by Ana the other night that I'm "the perfect guy friend." That's nice of her to say...and I don't necessarily have a problem with it. But, I have to admit...part of me felt like groaning. It reminded me of something I read not too long ago:
A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, "You're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way." This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, "You have a great resume...you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.
Eh...anyway. I think that's it for now.
Completely screwed up my neck the other day and although it's (very slightly) better than yesterday, I'm still in quite a bit of pain. Hoping it's just a bad strain. Heading to the doctor if nothing improves by this weekend.
After talking with a friend tonight, I've come to the conclusion that the age range for people I feel comfortable dating has officially broken 30. That feels more odd than it should. It's certainly not old or anything... Whatever.
I need to get to bed earlier than midnight. Maybe tonight's the night.
Updating more frequently now. I'm finding myself with much more time to myself than usual.
Along those lines, I've started piecing together my schedule for next fall. I'm going to have so much free time. Well, not *really*...it's going to be a lot of work. But it's a different kind of work, and not anywhere near the same sort of time commitment I'm dealing with at my current job. This is going to be good.
I had more to write but as usual, I'm exhausted. That's all for now.
Much better tonight, FYI.
I looked at my calendar earlier and freaked out a little bit after realizing just how little time is left before the end of the school year considering everything I still need to get done. Still having conflicting emotions about leaving, although it's getting easier...especially when I think about all of the horrible things I won't have to deal with next year (like the huge November competition).
Only two more days of Spring Break. It was nice while it lasted.
Having a really tough night.
I miss my friend so much.
( A letter to Christina... )
Insert clever title here.
I really want to get back into the habit of writing more frequently. How many times in the past 4 and a half years have I said that?
I actually had to look back at the entry calendar for that number. I began writing here in November of 2006. Occasionally, I'll go back and re-read a string of old entries. That usually ends with me feeling a strange mixture of pride and disappointment -- the former because of how far I've come, and the latter because it often doesn't feel far enough.
...but really, what does "far enough" even mean in this context?
Heading into work in about 8 hours or so (actually, for the next two days). Friday morning will be spent preparing the marching band uniforms for cleaning. On Saturday, I'm meeting with the other director, our band staff and possibly a couple parents to fabricate stage segments and lighting supports for the big show we've got coming up in a few weeks. This show is going to incorporate lighting effects, multimedia, costume changes and a bunch of other things that's going to call for an expected hour and a half pre-show setup time every time we perform this thing (which will only be 3 times). My time at this place is done in a few weeks, but damn it...I'm going out big. Good luck for whomever takes over.
Ana invited me out to hit up a bar tonight that has live band karaoke with her and a couple other people. Awesome concept.
I declined. Sometimes, you just need a night in.
Time for bed.
Halfway through Spring Break.
Spent the majority of the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with Ana -- a lovely two and a half hour drive both ways. Heh...I'm being half sarcastic. The trip scenery was beautiful (and of course, the aquarium was wonderful), but I'd forgotten how long two and a half hours behind the wheel really is. Haven't driven for an extended period of time in quite awhile.
It's amazing what comes up in a conversation when it's just you and one other person in a confined space for a long period of time. That, along with blasting Michael Jackson tunes and singing along with absolutely no regard for how ridiculous the two of us must have looked to other drivers on the road made for a great trip.
...and along those lines, I have some things to think about/reconsider. I'll leave it at that for right now (mainly because I'm exhausted after driving nearly 300 miles today (200 round-trip to Monterey, plus an additional 90 heading to and from my parents' house (I'm currently visiting them for a few days).
There's absolutely no reason why I should still be awake right now.
Officially resigned from my job this morning. There's no turning back now.
It didn't take very long for them to officially announce the position. Within 20 minutes, Edjoin (California's clearinghouse for jobs in public education) had already posted the position. There's something weird about seeing your job with an "Apply Now" button next to it. Up until now, the "moving on" thing has just been an idea floating around. Seeing an official call for applicants to replace you makes it real. I suppose there was always a safety net there -- until today, everything was just talk. I could always back out of grad school at the last minute if I wanted to and come back to my job next year. Now there's no job to come back to...even if I wanted to.
My last official contract day is May 27th (Graduation is the previous day). Then it's off to college land. Again.
The other director and I told the kids we're not coming back a few days ago (actually a little less than 24 hours after the last post). I would have waited longer, but one of my colleagues who's known to blab about things found out about it somehow, and I wanted the kids to find out directly from me instead of through the whole rumor mill. That was nasty. Lots of kids upset/crying... And on the other side, there were a decent amount of them posting on the internet to the effect of "Yay...we're glad those douche bags are leaving." The wonders of being able to spy on your students when you're the account administrator for the band program's Facebook page. Whatever.
Only 7 and a half weeks of school left (not counting Spring Break). Two of those weeks are devoted to state testing. Here we go.
So many things happen over the course of 10 days...
The memorial concert was absolutely wonderful. I can't describe how great it was to be able to see so many people from my past all in one place. The choral arrangement I wrote worked out well -- aside from me almost completely breaking down about halfway through it and missing a huge cue. Fortunately, the choir sensed what was happening and waited for me before continuing...also, the pause happened at an appropriate spot in the music, so it wasn't incredibly out of place. I love those people so much. And now, life continues.
And along those lines, there's huge news for me. I was offered a graduate assistantship at a local university -- they're going to be paying for my master's degree in exchange for me teaching a couple of undergrad courses and serving as the university band's personnel manager and librarian. I've accepted the position. I'll be moving back to my home town in May.
I've been getting so many questions from kids/parents about what our program is going to look like next year -- what our field show is going be...what we're looking at in terms of music selections and other long term plans. I keep deferring everyone, saying something to the effect of, "We have some things we need to figure out before we announce anything about shows." There are 8 weeks of school left -- it's getting to be about the time to let the kids know. That needs to happen before I submit a letter of resignation.
Alright...time to get back to work. Still lots of things to do.
Not the best start, 2011.
The majority of the day was so mellow and ultimately relaxing (yes...on a school day, no less). And now I'm sitting here at the end of the evening feeling slightly upset for no good reason. Balls.
Well, actually...I know exactly what it was that did it -- something I read. I suppose it's more of an annoyance than anything else (and an irrational one, at that). Just one more thing wasting the little bit of time that I actually have. For the record, I'm being vague more out of laziness than anything else.
Way too many bad things for only being a quarter of the way through the year.
Time for bed...and to try to focus on the good of today (yesterday) before I pass out.
In bed typing this from my phone. It's actually going a lot faster than I thought it would thanks to autocorrect. Never thought I'd ever say that...
The phone conference went well. I need to finish this damn choral arrangement. Aside from that, everything is sort of working itself out. I say this sort of thing all the time -- if I can make it through the end of the month, everything will be fine.
I've found that a handful of people I consider friends have dropped off the face of the earth over the past month, no doubt after finding out about my friend. I haven't been making a big deal about it in public, but I also haven't exactly been hiding the fact that I'm in mourning, either. I suspect the "pulling back" is a result of them not knowing what to say, or maybe just wanting to avoid making it worse in some way. While I appreciate their situation/point of view, it's still a little...disappointing (for lack of a better word).
I need to try to sleep. I've been taking horrible care of myself lately -- and have been pretty much good for nothing in my brain-burnt state.
Peace. In all respects. Is that so much to ask?
"...and I say, it's alright."
The memorial concert is exactly two weeks from tonight. That fills me with excitement and utter fear at the same time. I look forward to being with friends I haven't seen in years...and am also worried about pulling this whole thing off. I have another conference call with the other co-planner and Christina's mom to update each other on progress.
I'm putting together a choral ensemble to perform something to close out the concert. In addition to arranging all the music for it, the family is insisting that I conduct it at the event (which I suppose makes sense). Trying to find the right music was a little difficult, especially considering this group is made up of absolutely anyone who wants to participate (musically inclined or not) and is only going to have an hour to put the entire thing together on the day of the concert (5:00pm rehearsal for a 7:00pm concert). I've decided on "Here Comes the Sun" which will then segue directly into "Hey Jude" with the choir supporting a featured soloist for the latter -- then everyone joining together for the huge refrain (na na na...) at the end.
It'll be fine. Just worrying...as usual.
Alright, back to work. Or...sleep.
So many things.
I know how to play the game. I just don't want to. Just something that popped into my head just now.
This is another week from hell -- something big every single day, including my weekend. Sunday is the only day I'm going to get a chance to do any sort of relaxing...maybe. Seriously considering taking Monday off. There's just too much happening in my life at the moment, and I need to recharge.
The ceremony for my friend was this past weekend. Overall, it was very nice. Bad weather had been forecasted all that week, but it managed to clear up just in time and turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day. We hiked from the beach all the way to the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean -- such an incredible view. The ceremony itself was very simple...a little bit of singing, a couple poems read...tossing flower petals into the water. Then, we launched her ashes into the ocean. At the precise moment they were released, clouds moved in front of the sun and the entire area darkened -- then, after about 30 seconds or so, the clouds moved on and it was bright again. In the grand scheme of things, it was probably nothing more than a coincidence, but it made for a very surreal experience. That being said...it's comforting to assign meaning to everything, so all of us are saying that everything of that day -- the miraculous break in weather, the brief moment of darkness and subsequent light was Christina's presence. And...I sort of believe it.
It's after midnight and I'm exhausted. I have to be running around in a tux all day tomorrow (big music festival performances all day). It just never ends.
Another long week...
Sitting in my (new) favorite coffee shop and trying to clear my mind.
Looking around... At 11 o'clock, two educators sitting on a couch bitching about the economy and the current school system. At 12 o'clock, an older gentleman staring blankly off into space...he looks lonely. At 2 o'clock, a woman sitting with her laptop trying to figure out how to buy something on eBay. At 10 o'clock, two guys watching Tay Zonday sing "Chocolate Rain" on YouTube. At 11 o'clock far, a guy sitting in a recliner working on a college paper. At 10 o'clock far...a barista wiping down a table...she's gorgeous in a neo-hippie sort of way. Crappy music on all sides tonight. That's a little disappointing.
Meeting up with Ana later tonight.
I need to get more sleep.
...and I miss my friend. So much.
Longest week ever.
Finally starting to feel a little better. It's only been a week -- I suppose that's not bad, all things considered.
My friend's ashes are going to be spread at the end of the month in a small ceremony at the Marin Headlands. There's also going to be a large concert in her honor happening at the end of March. The family's asked me and another of her close friends to plan the entire thing. For all practical purposes, this is going to be *the* memorial. It's a huge honor for the two of us to be entrusted with putting everything together -- but I can't say that I'm not incredibly nervous about it.
I know it'll be fine. I know we'll be fine.
On a slightly different note, I made a (re)discovery this afternoon. All throughout college, I used to rely heavily on AIM to communicate with everyone at the university -- we would all be signed on 24 hours a day, usually with an away message listing our schedule for the day. It served more as a virtual message board than anything else... On many occasions, my friends and I would have full blown conversations there, sometimes discussing personal things we wouldn't necessarily say to each other face to face. Maybe because typing it into a text box made it a little less...personal? Less scary? Who knows.
About halfway through college, I discovered that AIM had been logging every single conversation and saving transcripts. I thought about turning it off, but then decided against it. I figured it might be interesting to reread them someday. Time passed, and I eventually forgot all about the logs. When I bought my laptop and did an automatic file transfer, those logs went along with everything else.
I found them again today. The transcripts are organized by screen name and date. I've been laughing all day at some of the things I've been reading. I miss college...
But...there's something else. I've been avoiding opening the transcripts from Christina. It's the largest collection of all of them. Maybe soon. I don't know if I'm quite ready to go there yet.
I need to get to bed.
Today's winding down. Writing for the sake of just getting this out and onto (virtual) paper...
Got to the hospital a little after 10 this morning. Her parents are doing well considering the circumstances. Spent about two hours sitting next to her with her family and talking...about everything. I was the only one of all of her college friends to be able to make it down to see her. Her parents told me that of all the people she knew at Pacific, they're glad that I was the one to be able to come down for it.
Christina was the first person I met in college (the same was true for her). It was a weird coincidence, really...her parents and my parents were the same way that day -- we'd all met independently of each other and didn't realize it until I spoke with my mom on the phone later that day. Over the next few years, Christina and I did absolutely everything together.
I spoke with her dad for a long time today. He told me something that made me smile...and also made my heart sink at the same time. He said that he and his wife had secretly hoped that somewhere down the line, Christina and I would "come to our senses" and start dating...and that eventually they would have loved it if we could have gotten married and I could have been their son. I didn't really know how to respond to that. I told him that Christina and I had actually jokingly talked about that sort of thing years ago -- then decided we were too much like brother and sister for that to work. Her mom later asked me if she would get the chance to dance at my future wedding -- I told her I'd make sure of it.
When it was almost time, I got about 15 minutes alone with her to say goodbye. I don't even really remember what I said in the moment -- the day's been such an incredible blur. I did get a chance to give her a big hug and kiss her on her forehead before I left.
Shortly afterward at about 12:15pm or so, life support was discontinued. She went very peacefully.
I've been asked by the family to handle notifications for everyone at the university. The first 4 hours after the fact were the worst -- the phone ringing constantly, blazing with text messages...after awhile, I finally just turned my phone on silent and curled up in bed. There's a blanket that Christina made me years ago when she got really into crocheting -- I've been sleeping with it for a while now. That made me feel a little better.
And...now life moves on. There's work tomorrow. Parents to deal with. Kids to teach. My colleague is the only one at work who knows anything about why I wasn't at the high school today. He told me to take a couple days off...but I can't do that. I need to be doing something...anything. Helping people. Teaching. Making music. Christina would have liked that.
I love you so much, Tibi... Rest easy, friend.
I spent most of the evening sitting in a cafe, writing sub plans for work and desperately trying to figure out how I'm going to be able to handle saying goodbye to someone who is the closest thing I have to a sister tomorrow morning.
Had a long conversation with my ex, A (of all people). She said something that gave me a little comfort at the time -- "Don't treat it like it's goodbye forever...it's just a visit."
That's a hell of a lot easier said than done...but there is a point there.
I don't know what tomorrow's going to look like. Hopefully clearer than tonight.
I need to get some sleep. I've got a two hour drive in Bay Area rush hour traffic to deal with in a few hours.
It looks like this is going to be it.
I'm taking off from work tomorrow to head down to Stanford to see my friend. I would head down today...right this minute, but I can't. The thought of waiting with the possibility of missing the chance to say goodbye scares me a little, but I just can't do it right now. It sounds selfish (maybe...) but I need a day to prepare myself for this.
I have no idea how I'm going to react tomorrow morning...but I do know that if I were to drive down there today, I'd be a wreck. I want to be at least somewhat composed. So I'm spending today with friends...talking things out, still trying to stay positive but realistic. Hopefully by the end of today, I'll at least have a better idea of how to handle this.
Stuff and things.
Just looked at the web portal for the university I've applied to for the master's program. After two months of waiting, my file has finally been advanced to the final admission stage -- pending department decision. I'm expecting that to go through without any real problems. Once that's official and I handle all the financial aid stuff, my resignation goes in.
My sick friend's status has deteriorated further. It's an hour by hour fight now. Not much any of us can do (doctors included) other than wait and hope.
The last time I saw her, we went to see Harvey Fierstein in a production of Fiddler on the Roof in San Francisco. As soon as I climbed into her car, she immediately drove the two of us to a little cafe and said, "Surprise! You're buying me brunch!" Then she proceeded to proudly serenade me: "If *you* were a rich man...yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum..." I love that woman.
Fight, Christina. Fight.